Thursday, March 4, 2010

Grandma-in-Law's Bridge-themed Birthday Cake

This week my husband and I will be visiting his grandma to celebrate her 81st birthday. My gift to her is to bake her cake, which will also be my very first "professional" (or what our chef would call "non-housewifey") cake.

I decided to make a chocolate cake with a layer of strawberry jam and covered with chocolate ganache glaze. Since grandma loves to play bridge, I decided to decorate the cake with a playing card theme. My vision was to have the suits made of marshmallow fondant and placed around the sides of the cake. Then I would top the cake with hand-painted, oversized playing cards (also made of fondant) that would display her age (an 8 and an ace card) and a queen face card since she is queen of the day.

Surprisingly, it's all coming together very smoothly and I'm really happy with the way the cards turned out. I wasn't sure how the food coloring would take when I painted it onto the fondant, but it worked beautifully and didn't bleed outside the painted lines.

The only thing I'm not quite happy with is the fact that the fondant didn't stiffen as much as I'd like. The fondant recipe we used in school dried really hard but didn't taste very good, so I tried a marshmallow fondant recipe (see below) that I've heard good things about. It's super easy to make, tastes like marshmallow and is pretty easy to work with. It's great for the smaller pieces like the suit shapes, but the playing cards won't stand up straight because they're still slightly flexible. That's okay though, I can just use a few bamboo skewers to use as an easel to prop up the cards. I'll just have to remember the flexibility factor next time I make something thin and large out of fondant.

Tomorrow I will make the cake — hopefully it will come out okay. I'll have to add a photo of the final product later. Wish me luck and also wish grandma a happy 81st!

Marshmallow Fondant
(found on

Small batch (about the size of a grapefruit)
1 cup mini marshmallows
1 tbsp water
1 1/2- 1 3/4 cup powder sugar

Large batch 
16 oz bag of mini marshmallows
2 tbsps water
2 lbs powdered sugar (8 cups)

Place marshmallows in a standard 1 cup measuring cup and push down and pack them in. Place in a microwave safe bowl and add the water. Put in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Just long enough for them to soften and puff up. Take out and stir with a spoon until it is combined well. At this point it looks kind of soupy. 

Then add the sugar and mix and fold until all is incorporated and it is no longer sticky. I take it out of the bowl when it gets to the point where most of the sugar is incorporated and I knead it in my hands. If it is too sticky, keep adding more powdered sugar until it is like a dough. This takes roughly about 5-7 minutes. Take a fondant roller or a regular rolling pin and roll out. You can get this fondant almost paper thin and it also repairs well. It's cheap, easy to work with, and tastes great too.

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